Niagara Prep’s Ntambue heading to Utah
Niagara Prep’s Donna Ntambue (7) boxes out an opponent during a game Monday night against Excel Hoops.
The weight is off the shoulders of Niagara Prep basketball player Donna Ntambue after the 18-year-old Montreal native committed to play NCAA Division 1 basketball at the University of Utah.
“In tournaments, I would think I was playing bad and then I would think it’s not that bad,” the 5-foot-9 player said Monday, after scoring 12 points in a 100-39 victory over Excel Hoops. “I was less stressed and felt really comfortable.”
The former under-16 and under-17 national team member visited only Utah and Virginia Commonwealth University before choosing the former.
“I had other schools who wanted me to do visits but I only wanted to do a few in September and then do some more in October,” Ntambue said. “But as soon as I saw Utah and VCU, I started to know where I wanted to be. I felt Utah is where I wanted to be and if I was to lose that scholarship I would be crying. I took it right away.”
She likes a lot of things about Utah.
“I really liked the coaching staff and the head coach because she seemed so genuine. She really wants you to get better and she cares about you as a person and a player,” Ntambue said. “And with the coaches, players and people around the team, it felt so comfortable during my visit.”
She is excited about the education she will receive and the locale surrounding the university.
“I don’t like being away from home but it’s nice and I can go hiking and stuff like that,” she said. “I haven’t done that in my life and I am really open to that.”
Niagara prep head coach Dave Picton thinks Utah is a great landing spot for his ultra-talented player.
“She has every opportunity to succeed as she continues to build her skill sets. They are so good but they’re still developing because she’s catching up because of all the track she was doing,” he said. “When they (skills) get there, I think Utah is getting one of the best players out there, a five star recruit.”
Picton loves what Ntambue brings to the court.
“Donna is one of the best female athletes in the country for her age group,” he said. “She has dynamic movement and speed and it is great to coach and be able to work with someone like that.”
Ntambue is working hard during the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association season to further home her skills for Utah.
“I want to be more consistent in my decision making, my shot and just getting better at what I am good at which is defence and anticipating passes,” she said. “I want to become a better leader. Even though I will be a rookie at Utah, I will need to vocalize.”
The former First Team All-Star at the under-17 national championships and tournament MVP at the 2016 national championships realized she had a chance to play NCAA Division 1 basketball going into Grade 8.
“During my summer after Grade 7, I had some interest and I thought I was getting there,” she said. “I knew I had to keep working or I wasn’t going to make it.”
Every summer she got better, especially after the 14 games she played for the Canadian national program. Playing for Canada at the 2018 U17 FIBA World Cup gave her the biggest boost.
“After that, when I was playing in CEGEP (a government funded post-secondary education pre‑university, collegiate technical college found only in Quebec’s education system), I was a lot more confident because I had international experience. I was ready.”
One might think Ntambue’s Team Canada experiences would have her dreaming of being on Canada’s Olympic basketball team but that isn’t the case.
“I wanted that before, but now if it happens, it happens,” she said. “My dream was more with track and I was envisioning going to the Olympics for track.”
In track, she was a sprinter with a personal best time of 11.94 seconds in the 100 metres. She is now on the fast track in another sport.
Niagara Prep 100 Excel Hoops 39
Mick and Angelo’s/Johnny Rocco’s/Cracker Jacks Player of the Game: Niagara’s Maddie Picton with 17 points.
For Niagara Prep: Picton 17; Emma Koabel 14; Sarah Te-Biasu 13; Donna Ntambue 12; Serah Williams, Janee Harrison and Julia Colavecchia 9.
For Excel Hoops: Alexis Rosario-Remekie, Micaela Carter and Caidence Amartey 6.
Up next: Niagara Prep hosts Capital Courts Friday at 7 p.m. at A.N. Myer.